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Former Staffers Accuse Rep. Conyers of Harassment; Flynn's Lawyers No Longer Sharing Info with Trump Team; Trump's Defense of Moore Splits GOP; Trump to Meet with GOP Senators Ahead of Key Tax Vote. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 26, 2017 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:04] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Quiet no more. Trump backs the embattled Republican who faces women's allegations.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.

He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen and, you know, you have to listen to him, also.

HENDERSON: As sexual harassment claims engulf Capitol Hill.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: There are more names coming. There's no question. I've heard them for years.

HENDERSON: And Flynn's lawyers are no longer sharing information with Team Trump. What this means for the Mueller investigation.

Plus --

TRUMP: We're going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas. Hopefully, that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present.

HENDERSON: President Trump's tax cut promise, and if the Senate can get it across the finish line.

INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


HENDERSON: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia-Malika Henderson. John King has the day off. Thanks to our viewers across the country and around the world for sharing some of your Sunday.

Breaking 12 days of silence, President Trump weighs in on the Senate race in Alabama. He's backing the Republican Roy Moore despite the multiple allegations involving Moore's past conduct with young women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Roy Moore denies it.

REPORTER: What about the women? What about the nine women?

TRUMP: By the way, he gives a total denial. And I do have to say, 40 years is a long time. He's run eight races and this has never come up. So, 40 years is a long time.


HENDERSON: Moore does deny the claims and his campaign wasted no time in using Trump's words for fundraising. And beyond that, Moore says he doesn't even know the women who have come forward with accusations.


ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I did not know these two women. I did not --

HOST: So, you definitely didn't know Beverly Nelson?

MOORE: I didn't know Beverly Nelson and I didn't know --

HOST: Leigh Corfman.

MOORE: Leigh Corfman. I never dated underage women, and I never engaged in sexual misconduct with anybody.

I mean, you have to understand, I was deputy distinct attorney and then the circuit judge. I go by the law. It's very hypocritical to go by this law and enforce it and then vie later it. You just don't do that.

And I didn't do that. And that's what is being alleged. It's very hurtful.


HENDERSON: One of Moore's accusers says she told family and friends after he allegedly touched her inappropriately when she was 14 years old.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Roy Moore denies these allegations and, further, says he does not even know you.

LEIGH CORFMAN, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: I wonder how many mes he doesn't know.


HENDERSON: Here to share their reporting and their insight, Michael Bender of "The Wall Street Journal", "The Washington Post's" Karoun Demirjian, "TIME's" Molly Ball, and CNN's Lauren Fox. Bender, I'm going to start with you on this. Trump's involvement in

this campaign essentially backing Roy Moore is coming as a surprise and disappointment to a lot of leaders on Capitol Hill. They wanted a different outcome. His involvement comes with obviously upsides for Roy Moore. But it does come with some consequences for the Republican brand and Trump himself possibly.

MICHAEL BENDER, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Possibly. But I think what we've seen from President Trump and his political calculations, it's very short term. He's not worried about the long- term brand of the Republican Party like Mitch McConnell would be or the long-term implications for the legislative agenda over the next 18 months. He's focused very much on the near term.

He wants immediate wins. We've seen that repeatedly. He talked about these major legislative issues that can take years of singular focus. He expects them to be done right away. He wants Roy Moore in the Senate. He wants his -- for vote on a tax reform. It's almost as simple as that.

Then you have another layer here, but this is a very familiar scenario for President Trump. He obviously faced similar accusations in the waiting days of his own campaign and that became somewhat of a litmus test to see who is loyal to him and it was something that his former chief of staff Reince Priebus encouraged him to get out of the race over and Trump never forgave him over that.


BENDER: So, now, Trump wants be is sort of returning the favor here to Roy Moore and, you know, I think the one surprising thing for me here is that Trump was on the other side of this race in the primary. He backed the incumbent.

HENDERSON: Luther Strange, right?

BENDER: Incumbent Republican.

And this is a president who never sort of misses the opportunity to say I told you so, I was right. This is an opportunity for Trump to say he was right about this race. He had picked the right guy from the start. Instead, he's doubling down.

Hard for me to imagine a Democrat winning in Alabama, but if Trump loses twice in Alabama, it would be pretty stunning.

HENDERSON: And, Molly, he commented, Moore, generally, on the climate we find ourselves in with women coming forward.

[08:05:00] Here's what he had to say.


TRUMP: Women are very special. I think it's a very special time because a lot of things are coming out and I think that's good for our society. And I think it's very, very good for women and I'm very happy a lot of these things are coming out.

REPORTER: But do you accuse -- do you believe the accuser?

TRUMP: I'm very happy it's being exposed.

REPORTER: Do you --


HENDERSON: What did you make of his comments there?

MOLLY BALL, REPORTER, TIME: Well, there obviously is a cultural moment here, right? And we're seeing it across various industries and now increasingly in politics. And you can see I think also in the testimony of Roy Moore's accusers that they have been propelled by the sort of cultural tailwinds that the increasing cultural norm of believing women instead of tearing them down or at least hearing them out, which I think might have been the norm in an earlier era or even very recently, I think that's really given women a lot of strength to come forward and helps explain why a lot of these long festering rumors have never come to light until now.

You can imagine a much more negative cultural climate towards these sort of accusations. And so, you know -- of course, it's very interesting --

HENDERSON: For Trump to be saying this, right.

BALL: -- for Trump to be talking about, expressing approval for this movement and approval for women coming forward and talking about these things. At the same time, as he says -- it's very Trumpian, right? At the same time, as he says, at the same time as we listen to these women, we've got to listen to Roy Moore as well.

HENDERSON: To listen to Roy Moore -- he also was to be annoyed at Ivanka Trump who came out and --

BALL: She made a strong statement.

HENDERSON: A very strong statement that there's a special place in hell for people who abuse children.

He also seems to be casting doubt on the authenticity of the "Access Hollywood" tape, according to "The New York Times."

And I wonder, Karoun, I'll go to you on this. Moore now is out with a new ad. He is so much trumpeting what Trump said, and here he is with a new ad in his campaign.


MOORE: My name is Roy Moore and I approve this message.

AD ANNOUNCER: Five state campaigns, 40 years of honorable service. Roy Moore has been intensity scrutinized and not a hint of scandal. But four weeks before the election, false allegations, a scheme by

liberal elites, and the Republican establishment to protect their big government trough.

But we know a vote for Roy Moore means conservative judges, tax cuts and rebuilding the military. Roy Moore, the right choice.


HENDERSON: In some ways, it's sort of a standard issue ad, right? Roy Moore talking about tax cuts. Roy Moore saying that he's going to go to Washington and clean it up.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Which is very interesting, given the fact that a lot of Republicans that are in Congress are not sure that Roy Moore is actually a vote for the GOP agenda. And the fact that he's claiming that is like, OK, well, that's news to a lot of people I think on Capitol Hill.

I mean, look, he's clearly jumping over everything that is the specifics of any allegations and just putting up those words, false allegations, is all you're getting in terms of lip service towards the current crisis, although I guess that not a hint of scandal thing, too, you know, is trying to paint the picture. Juxtapose that with what Doug Jones is doing, which is just basically putting up the pictures of these women, naming their names and going on and on.

I mean, it's --

HENDERSON: He's got a new ad out and we can run that ad, since you mentioned it.


AD ANNOUNCER: Jeff Sessions says, I have no reason to doubt these young women.

And Richard Shelby says he will absolutely not vote for Roy Moore.

Conservative voices putting children and women over party, doing what's right.


HENDERSON: And, Lauren, this in some ways is a different tactic for Doug Jones with this ad.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Absolutely. I mean, he talks about Jeff Sessions believing the women and I think that is stunning, given what Trump said earlier this week. I mean, the position of those two -- I mean, two weeks ago, the mood on Capitol Hill was they were going to do everything they could to push Moore out of this race and clearly, Donald Trump coming in at the last moment gives Moore something to run on. But Doug Jones has plenty of Republican voices to go out there and campaign and say, look what this man has done.


BALL: You can see what he's trying to do, get those crossover votes which, of course, in such a Republican state, you need to win a statewide campaign. You know, I was -- and I think the Sessions thing, as you pointed, is especially powerful. I was down in Alabama reporting on the primary in this race a couple of weeks ago and there is certainly a lot of loyalty to Trump. He's got a high approval rating with Alabama Republicans, but they like Jeff Sessions even better.

And the one thing that made them kind of mad at Trump was when he seemed to turn on Jeff Sessions, the Republican voters of Alabama absolutely took Jeff Sessions' side in that fight, he is the hometown boy.

HENDERSON: It will be interesting to see there -- for Doug Jones to win, he's going to need African-American voters to be excited from reports, you've been on the ground there. It doesn't look like they are necessarily excited and also I think need white voters to stay home and the white voters that do show up to vote differently.

[08:10:07] Next, it's down to the Senate. President Trump has called tax reform a gift he hopes is ready just in time for Christmas. But can the GOP actually deliver?

But, first, politicians say the darnedest thing with the president's foul humor.


TRUMP: As many of you know, I've been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor. However, I have been informed by the White House counsel's office that Tater and Tots pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked. So, we're not going to revoke. So, Tater and Tot, you can rest easy.




TRUMP: Everybody's talking about the progress you've made in the last few months as I opened it up.

[08:15:01] We opened it up, and we said, go ahead. We're going to fight to win. We're not fighting anymore to just walk around. We're fighting to win.

And you people are really -- you've turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody's seen and they are talking about it. We're being talked about it again as armed forces. We're really winning. We know how to win.

But we have to let you win. They weren't letting you win before. They were letting you play even. We're letting you win. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: The president doesn't have any major legislation in the win column but he does have that winning rhetoric thing down pat.

Another topic Trump is happy to talk about, the economy. Here he is talking to troops on Thanksgiving about what they should be thankful for.


TRUMP: The economy is doing really great. When you come back, you're going to see with the jobs and companies coming back into our country and the stock market just hit a record high, unemployment is the lowest it's been in 17 years. So, you're fighting for something real. You're fighting for something good. Now, we're working on tax cuts, big, fat, beautiful tax cuts. And hopefully, we'll get that and then you're going to really see things happen.


HENDERSON: Trump is heading to Capitol Hill Tuesday to meet with Senate Republicans about their version of the tax plan. He's also meeting with the so-called big four, McConnell, Schumer, Ryan and Pelosi.

Lauren, you've been covering this. Talk about the president's role as the cheerleader behind this bill really to getting done. He'll be on the Hill this week.

FOX: This is it for Republican agenda items this year. They failed on the Affordable Care Act on repealing it. This is the major agenda item.

And President Trump's rule here is very interesting in that I don't know if he's going to actually be able to sell this plan and make some of the people who are on the line like Senator Susan Collins of Maine turn around and say, you know what, the president came to Capitol Hill, I'm going to vote for this bill now.

I don't think that's what his role really is here. I think his role, it's broader in that if they do pass this bill, he wants to make sure that he can say, look what I did on Capitol Hill. Look who I talked to. Look who I convinced.

HENDERSON: And, Molly, here he is talking about how it really is up to Republicans to get this done.


TRUMP: With the Democrats giving us no votes for tax cuts for purely political reasons, obstructionists, it will be up to the Republicans to come through for America. I think they will. I hope they will. It's up to the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HENDERSON: He also tweeted that Republican senators are, working hard to get tax cuts. He's focused on this laser like, really in a way that he wasn't with Obamacare, the repeal efforts.

BALL: Right. And you can understand how for a person with Trump's background and who is not -- who doesn't particularly like paying taxes, that this would resonate with him in a way that health care didn't necessarily. He's obviously personally passionate about people's tax bills, but I think it's also really interesting in that clip where you hear him again talking about Republicans as they.

HENDERSON: Yes, as if he's not part of that.

BALL: He did the same thing on health care and it actually tells you two different things, right? Number one, he doesn't necessarily see himself as part of the team. He sees he's looking at the Republicans and Democrats both as being sort of external to him and he's sort of a critic and a pusher and a cheerleader, as you said. But, number two, he sees himself as sort of a spectator in this process.

He's watching it unfold and he's cheering them on and he's trying to nudge where he can, but he's not actually in there in the trenches. He's certainly not crafting the legislation. He's not really voicing supporter opposition to any particular provisions in the bill. He's just watching it unfold and trying to help where he can.

HENDERSON: And after that, Karoun, we'll see what happens, if tax reform, the vote is this week. Other agenda items, right, that he's going to have to deal with going forward. The government shutdown, that deadline looming December 8th. Will we get the re-emergence of the Chuck and Nancy show?

DEMIRJIAN: Right. So, that is an open question. I mean, also just remember that even if you have Senate vote this week, tax reform is not done.


DEMIRJIAN: So, it has to be -- it is a very different bill than exists in the House. So, it's the end of the story --

HENDERSON: Lots of sausage making --

DEMIRJIAN: Lots of sausage-making and also, you know, just based on the timeline. You know, they are trying to do this quickly, but they really do have to get this done in December. They are running into issues with who wins Alabama Senate after that. You know, certain senators, John McCain is not doing as well as he was before, hoping that they can get everything done before. They have to worry about, you know, cobbling those numbers together.

But, yes, moving forward, they have to get a budget bill through. Otherwise, there will be another government shutdown and that never quite plays well even if it seems to be, you know, oh, we'll shut down the government to get what we want. The "what we want" isn't really there as part of the discussion this time, so they really do have to get that money on the table.

HENDERSON: And will DACA be part of that?

DEMIRJIAN: Probably not, right? I mean, that is the open -- one of the open questions.

[08:20:01] DACA is an open question. There's a really important surveillance provision that they have to -- if they want to keep the NSA to be able to look at foreign targets overseas and should be able to do that. There's a big privacy debate going on about whether the intelligence community is going to lose its number one tool, basically.


DEMIRJIAN: Right. And so, there are all of these discussions but right now, nobody is discussing it because everybody is so focused on tax reform. So that means you're probably going to have this happen rather quickly or you end up having a very short-term extension and then kicks that down the line, which means we'll be pushed closer to Christmas and trying to work a lot of this stuff out and that's always fun.

HENDERSON: Unclear what happens with tax reform if the Obamacare mandate is a part of that and what that means for Democrats' moves after that if that's a part of that.

The other thing, Bender, that's on the to-do list is appointing a CFPB leader, right? That's something that the president said he wants to do. We'll see on Monday who wins the battle of who's actually in charge there. But this is something that is top of mind for a lot of Democrats as well.

Warren, who was part of the founding of this board, she tweeted this: Less than a decade after taxpayers bailed out the big banks, the banking industry made record profits last year. That's who you're worried about, Donald Trump.

And she was responding to this, the president who tweeted this, a little Twitter war after Thanksgiving. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB has been a total disaster as run by the previous administration's pick. Financial institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public. We will bring it back to life. This is going to be a fight.

And it's always a fight that both sides sort of want.

BENDER: Yes, and that will -- that's a good fight for both sides to have, but who is surprised here that the Trump administration is facing a personnel crisis, right? I mean, they were caught flat- footed here with Cordray's departure. I'm sure they were caught flat- footed with Cordray's own decision to appoint his own successor. They scrambled to put -- to have Mulvaney slide into that spot.

But you just go through, you can go through each of these agencies. There are dozens of appointees and nominations that Trump has not made, you know, from some really glaring holes in the State Department and he just sort of fixed some openings on the National Labor Relations Board.


BENDER: Had essentially left Democrats to control. And also if I could just make a step back here, too, on Trump's pivot into the Senate this week, it's just going to be really interesting to see how he comes out here. You mentioned that the tax reform is what animates him here.

But these are folks in the Senate that want to know the details.


BENDER: Ron Johnson is in the weeds here on what he wants to see in this tax reform. Trump is known for his communications.

HENDERSON: Right. And the sort of a salesman part of it and the branding.

BENDER: Yes, exactly. And he kind of talks in broad sweeping generalities that works very well on the campaign trail, works very well on TV. But these are folks in the room that want to know, that whose votes are going to be dependent on the details. And also, I means, his credibility here.

We go back to -- again, we go back to health care reform, where he --

HENDERSON: He's out there and --

BENDER: Yes, cajole it through the House and then sort of blindsided --

HENDERSON: Calls that mean later, yes.

BENDER: -- the entire Republican conference in the House when it -- when public opinion turned on him.

HENDERSON: Yes. And, for this one, the same people in many ways to watch, right? Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Ron Johnson, John McCain, we'll see how this shakes out this week.

Coming up, Capitol Hill consumed by sexual harassment controversies. Why one Democrat is saying for her party, resignation is the only way forward.


HENDERSON: In this post-Harvey Weinstein world, it didn't take long for Capitol Hill to become a focal point for its own sexual harassment scandals. One example, the sitting senator who is facing groping allegations from four women, Al Franken, the Democrat from Minnesota, has issued three apologies right now but hasn't disputed that these incidents actually happened. His Thanksgiving Day statement read this way. "I crossed a line for

some women and I know that any number is too many. Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate and I respect their feelings about that. I feel terribly that I've made some women feel badly and for that, I am so sorry and I want to make sure that never happens again.

Then there's Congressman John Conyers accused of harassment and discrimination by former staffers. He's facing an ethics investigation after BuzzFeed first reported he used taxpayer dollars to settle a 2015 complaint from a former staffer who alleges that she was fired because she refused sexual advancements from the congressman.

Conyers denies the harassment allegations, but even some members of his own party are calling for him to resign.


REP. KATHLEEN RICE (D), NEW YORK: Enough is enough. At this point, what I am voicing publicly is what every single private citizen is saying across America. Why are the rules for politicians in Washington different than they are for everyone else?

Right now, what we're talking about is there going to be any level of accountability? And, you know, saying that we're going to have these allegations against politicians go before an ethics committee, that can sometimes take a couple of years -- no offense to my colleagues who are on the Ethics Committee -- but that's not real. That's not real. And that's not accountability.


HENDERSON: And, Molly, she's out front and in many ways alone on this with most folks saying it should go to the ethics committee, some people saying that he should step down from his positions on different committees. How does Congress move forward on this? What do they do?

[08:29:58] BALL: Yes, I think this is a real moment of reckoning to see if Congress can actually handle this within their own ranks or if they will be, you know, able to see the misdeeds among everybody else but not their own.

I mean this is clearly -- there is already a move that has some support to change the way these allegations are handled. The Conyers case, you can see how flawed that process was.

I guess nobody should be surprised that the people who write the rules make the rules to favor them.


BALL: That's the case in many areas involving politicians. And as for what Congresswoman Rice was saying this is a process that seems set up to protect members of Congress instead of to protect the alleged victims of these kinds of behavior. And so there's a move to change what has been a confidential process that really put victims at a disadvantage. But I don't think that's going to be enough for a lot of people. I think a lot of people are going to want to see, as the Congresswoman was saying, some actual consequences and to see this handled in what doesn't feel like a partisan manner.

If this becomes, you know, this is the other team's problem and the people on my team are blameless, that is going to, I think, really put a bad taste in people's mouth, really seem hypocrite.

HENDERSON: And along with Representative Rice there, the "Detroit Free Press", their editorial board has called on Representative Conyers to resign.

They said, "The revelations of Conyers' alleged sexual harassment scandal and his documented use of taxpayer dollars to bury that scandal in violation of congressional ethics rules is less ambiguous. It is the kind of behavior that can never be tolerated in a public official, much less an elected representative of the people." That is their take on it.

Very hard to get people to resign and leaders in some ways may not be as powerful as they once were. And you talk about somebody like Conyers. He's 88 years old, the longest serving member in the House and one of the founders of the CBC. He's saying he's not going anywhere.

DEMIRJIAN: I mean yes, ultimately it's up to Conyers because the process to actually remove somebody is either -- there's a very high political hurdle, as we see and we're talking about Roy Moore and whether there'll be votes to expel him or it just takes a very long time for the Ethics Committee to do its due diligence and go through the process and listen to everybody on both sides.

And so yes, the leaders do not have as much power as they'd like to have. Remember they just want to stick to their seat. And this is why we're seeing it, you know, play out the way it is.

But I want to take issue with one thing that Congresswoman Rice said which is that she's saying why are the rules for politicians in Congress different from everybody else. They are not. Right now the system is not like it's perfect for every waitress in America or everybody who works in a corporation.

Right now we're having -- yes, Harvey Weinstein lost his company basically on the basis of this. And now the spotlight has shifted to congress and they do need to change their own rules to be able to get some credibility.

But what they are actually going to need to be doing in doing that is setting an example for the rest of the country because right now there is nothing that actually protects the average blue collar, white collar, what have you, every person.

And so you kind of need this to go a certain way in order to start having that discussion and that's the non-glittering, non-Hollywood, you know, center of government D.C. level which is the next stage of where this needs to go. It's going to be tough --

HENDERSON: And Congresswoman Dingell agrees with you. And here's what she had to say about the climate on Capitol Hill and how they have a chance to lead.


REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: There are more names coming. There's no question. I've heard them for years. And any man that has practiced just despicable, irresponsible behavior needs to be worried.

Congress needs to lead on passing legislation that holds people accountable, doesn't make the taxpayers pay for it, has everybody pay for it and is transparent.


HENDERSON: Lauren, we'll see some movement maybe next week in terms of legislation coming up on the Hill.

FOX: Right. And already on Capitol Hill, you know, they have voted to have mandatory sexual harassment training. It's kind of incredible that that wasn't required before on Capitol Hill. But I think what we're going to be seeing moving forward is as these ethics investigations unfold, like the congresswoman said, they can take years.

This is not going away. The spotlight is not going away and I think we're going to continue to see legislation moving forward.

HENDERSON: And in terms of the consequences for 2018, if you flashback to the year of the women -- the woman in 1992, kind of as a result of a lot of the conversation that we're having right now about sexual harassment, that time involving Clarence Thomas -- some numbers in terms of women wanting to run, we've got some from the Center for American Women in Politics.

And it shows that there does appear to be something of a surge in 2018 -- 354 potential female candidates. That's up from 181 in 2016. U.S. Senate -- 38 potential candidates, up from 19. This could have some sort of offset at the ballot box in terms of enthusiasm in how women vote and how they run.

BENDER: Yes. I do think that there's sort of an optimistic view right now --


BENDER: -- just in terms of where we are broadly as a culture and sort of the minute-by-minute news cycle to think that we'll be talking about this still in November.

[08:35:01] Although, that said, it is certainly a cultural moment right now. This has lasted through several news cycles. The "Washington Post" reporter who broke the Charlie Rose story was on television talking about her reporting. This is a story -- she started reporting this seven years ago and couldn't get it out because she was hitting dead ends that women didn't want to talk.

Now fast forward to the current climate, these women are more willing to talk. And regardless of where this debate goes, it needs to go further. But that, at least, is a positive sign right now.


BENDER: If women are more willing to talk about this and they say that this is not acceptable, it's a baby step. And electorally, what the effect this will have in November -- let's see what effect it has in Alabama.


BENDER: I mean, you know, Trump won Wisconsin.

HENDERSON: Karoun -- you seem like you want to cut in here.

DEMIRJIAN: No, I just was saying Alabama may not be the greatest litmus test for the entire country in this particular regard. I mean actually if Roy Moore gets elected, you might actually see more of a backlash to that in states because they find that so -- it doesn't sit well in other places that may not have as much of a bond with the candidate.

I mean it seems like a lot of people in the GOP have a bond with Roy Moore. They may not be -- and there's a question of are the polls that are showing that Moore is behind actually accurate because are people going to say yes, I'm going to vote for Roy Moore the same way they might do that in a secret ballot, right.

So if he gets in, that could actually fuel the year of the women thing more than it being the litmus test for is it going to work or is it not. But again, it depends on what happens then and then who else is campaigning and how the conversation goes in those places.

HENDERSON: It will be fascinating to watch.

Still ahead, Michael Flynn's lawyers in communications with team Trump. What the change could mean for the Russia investigation.


HENDERSON: The lines of communication between Donald Trump's and Michael Flynn's lawyers are now closed. The former national security advisor's legal team isn't sharing information with Team Trump anymore -- a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

The source says the move could indicate that Flynn is preparing to plead guilty in the Mueller investigation. Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, put out a statement saying not so fast. "No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about General Flynn cooperating against the President."

Karoun -- what do you make of this new revelation that came out last week, no longer cooperating? Some people jumping to conclusions, other people saying not so fast like Sekulow did.

DEMIRJIAN: Well look, there's -- Flynn has been a big question mark for a long time. He approached the congressional committees and there was talk about, you know, whether he's going to be asking for immunity in order to testify to that meaning he had something to say. No, yes -- we weren't sure. That was months ago.

More recently we've seen that, you know, that his work for Turkey -- for the lobbying that he did --


DEMIRJIAN: -- that he was paid for, that wasn't directly for Turkey, it was for advocating for certain positions. And then there's this report about whether he was trying to take money in order to get Gulen extradited. And again, this gets into Turkish politics.

But it's significant because the thing that brought Manafort into Mueller's crosshairs was not necessarily something that is directly related to the Trump campaign. It was the lobbying work he did that he had (INAUDIBLE). That is actually like he broke the law, in that sense, is what Mueller is alleging.

If he is moving in similar territory on Flynn, that means Flynn has to worry about himself in a way that may be more critical, frankly, than whatever he knows or can say about the President. So is this a question of pleading guilty? We don't know.


DEMIRJIAN: Is he pleading guilty for anything involving the collusion probe? Maybe not, right.

But Mueller's probe is very, very broad and he has Flynn on something else that is a do or die situation for Flynn. He could very easily say this is the time to talk.

And then, you know, he only complicates his own position if he continues to talk with the President. The more that they talk, the more there is that -- frankly, the more the President is in danger too if Flynn is actually a focus of Mueller where something is going to happen, something is going to crack if he's the next person.

HENDERSON: And as we saw --

DEMIRJIAN: -- you know, frankly, the separation, in a way, could protect both of them but also Flynn has been in a situation where people have been looking at him like he has something to say and we know that he now has this albatross around his neck for what he did --


DEMIRJIAN: -- that is separate.

HENDERSON: Yes. And at least one Republican saying the White House should be worried.


REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I would be concerned if I were perhaps in the White House. So when families are involved, you know, people are going to do what they have to do to protect themselves and their families.

And so I don't know that anybody should feel particularly comfortable right now. I would not be very relaxed.


HENDERSON: And the family that's involved here is Jared Kushner. He's going to have to turn over some more documents to the Senate committee this next week coming up by Monday, I believe. And we've also -- there have been two big stories about him where he's sort of saying, I'm laying low. I'm in it and not in it in the way that I used to be. I used to be the secretary of everything, sort of the secretary of nothing at this point.

What did you make of some of -- and there are the headlines from "The Times" and "The Washington Post". What did you make of those stories?

BENDER: Well, Kushner talked -- gave an interview for "The Washington Post" and he validates that theory. I mean he talks very willingly about his changing responsibilities. But -- and sort of his winning influence I think is more though than just the new White House chief of staff.

[08:45:03] John Kelly, former Marine, has instituted some command and control in that White House that it didn't have at the beginning. But I think his lack of influence in the White House right now is just sort of a more narrow role has more to do -- or as much to do with his own track record.

Remember a special office was created for Jared Kushner at the beginning of this administration. He was able to hire and fire and sort of set the direction of this office. And from what my sources are telling me, the sort of founding documents of this office, the one that set the goals -- big, broad goals for this office -- there's a wide gap between what they set out to do and what their accomplishments have been in this first year.

HENDERSON: Yes. And he has said that, "During the campaign I was more like a fox than a hedgehog. I was more of a generalist. I became more like hedgehog where it was more taking issues you care deeply about, going deep and devoting the time, energy and resources to trying to drive change."

Molly, we've got to move quickly on this one. I don't know if you're a fox or a hedgehog but this sort of assessment of Jared's role -- his own assessment is somewhat different from what we've seen from Jared before where we'd read in the papers sort of about Jared taking credit for whatever was good that was happening in the White House.

BALL: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, these articles are certainly accurate, according to my sources as well, that his role has shrunk. But I do think it is really interesting, as you pointed out, Mike that he did participate in "The Post" story. Clearly he wants -- he also wants people to know --


BALL: -- that his role is shrinking and you have to wonder, why is that? Is he putting some distance there or does someone want him to put distance between himself and the center of power?

HENDERSON: Yes. Good point -- Molly.

Next up, our reporters give you a glimpse of the stories that will be making headlines tomorrow and beyond including the President's trips to sell his tax plan. Which purple state he's hitting this week?


HENDERSON: Let's head around the INSIDE POLITICS table to see what our reporters are hearing from their sources. Bender -- I'll start with you.

BENDER: President Trump returns from his Thanksgiving break today with time running out on his tax reform package. To help push it along, Trump is going to pull a familiar page from his playbook

His team right now is drafting a speech to be delivered this week in a purple state where, unsurprisingly, a Democratic senator is seeking re-election in 2018.

But to find success with this watch for two things -- can Trump avoid the kind of unforced errors that normally cause him needless distractions? And can he show the kind of discipline and follow- through in the days and weeks to come that are necessary? The fate of his party's last best chance to pass major legislation this year hangs in the balance.

HENDERSON: Wow -- major. And we'll also see if he can actually get a Democratic vote with this speech. We'll see.


DEMIRJIAN: Well, while all that is happening there's also going to be this very interesting hearing happening in the Senate Judiciary Committee which is that they have decided to push ahead with some of these controversial judicial nominees that the President wants to have confirmed but that there is not really approval for.

Traditionally what happens is any state that a senator represents, when a senator is affected, has to approve of a nominee before it goes forward. It's called a blue slip process.

Republicans kind of hinted earlier this year that they weren't going to actually honor that process for all of the circuit court nominees. And now we're actually seeing the first time that those people are coming to sit before the committee for a confirmation hearing.

It's not going to be so much about what those say to justify their own nominations as what the lawmakers are saying to each other because this really is the opening round of what's going to be a very ugly fight because Democrats that this event (ph) is their last best block against this President's agenda, the parts of it that they don't like. Things like the Muslim ban, et cetera.


DEMIRJIAN: But Republicans really, really want to clear the road to get a lot of these people through. So this will be the first act of what's likely to be a very, very long process.

HENDERSON: Conservatives and liberals will be watching that closely.



BALL: The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau abruptly stepped down from his post last week and named his chief of staff to act in his place. Meanwhile, the Trump administration named the director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. So there's the possibility that two people could show up to work at the same job on Monday and there's dueling legal opinions over that --


BALL: Meanwhile, Cordray is not going away. He has become to some on the left as sort of a hero of battling the banks along the lines of an Elizabeth Warren. And he's why they expected to run for governor in Ohio to succeed John Kasich as a Democrat.

We've got crowded fields on both sides. There will be a Democratic and a Republican primary in that crucial battleground of battlegrounds -- Ohio next year.

HENDERSON: And this fight has probably given him a bit of a boost in terms of his name ID.

You're next.

FOX: As sort of sexual harassment allegations have rattled Capitol Hill I've been speaking with some male congressmen about sort of how they're feeling about, you know, next names dropping. Everybody is sort of looking over their shoulder, concerned about this.

I talked with Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho and he actually said that to sort of head off the process of any concerns that women in his office may have ever had about colleagues or, you know, even jokes that maybe get told in the office, he wanted to invite them into his office. He said, listen, I want you guys to feel like this is an open door policy. I want you to come talk to me if you're ever concerned. You know, I want to make sure that this is a good work environment.

I thought that was really interesting that men on Capitol Hill really want to make sure that women in their offices, you know, they know what sexual harassment is but they want to make sure that some of those other lines are not being crossed in their workplaces. I felt that was interesting.

HENDERSON: You imagine and hope that similar conversations are going on all across the country.

And I'll close with this.

State leaders across the country are watching Congress with a simple agenda very closely to see if the Children's Health Insurance Program makes their to-do list. Known as CHIP, the program provides care for millions of kids and pregnant women from low-income families across the country.

[08:55:06] Congress missed the September deadline to extend the funding which means that a handful of states could run out of funding in the next few weeks and many, many more in the next months.

So far Congress can't seem to agree on how to fund the $15 billion program, a program that has been reauthorized several times over the last two decades.

Look for this battle to heat up in the coming weeks as Congress deals with how to keep the government running and governor across the country look to D.C. to resolve a pressing issue for their states.

Thanks for being with us this Sunday.

Next, a bit of bipartisanship -- Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin talk taxes, the budget and more on "STATE OF THE UNION".

Stay tuned.